Brendan Gleeson ‘learned a huge amount’ working with non-binary actor

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Brendan Gleeson

Irish star Brendan Gleeson has spoken about how much he learned when he worked with a non-binary person for the first time.

The acting legend worked with non-binary actor Esco Jouléy in the series State of the Union.

Gleeson said that, even at 66 years of age he is still learning about life and polite ways to interact with others who have had different experiences.

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He started to see that gender can be ‘an imprisonment’ for people who have a fluid sexuality and understood why non-binary people often prefer non gender specific pronouns.

He told Ray D’Arcy: “From a personal point of view, this was the first real proper interaction with a non-binary person that I had in my working life…or pretty much anywhere that I knew of.

“The production employed people as a deliberate policy to put their money where their mouth was and said, ‘We’re going to have non-binary people on the crew and on the staff if we can.’

“What came across to me just from working with Esco, who is the barista, I learned a huge amount.

“Mostly to do with the fluidity of this whole area in terms of, if you’re looking for definites you’re not going to get them.

“Just for me to find out how much gender can be an imprisonment for people who have a more fluid sexuality, you’d really have to see it to understand it.

“’They’ is the pronoun you have to use and I consistently got it wrong and Esco would go, ‘I’m fascinated that that’s the way you see me’.

“I’d call them a ‘he’ or I’d call them a ‘she’ or whatever but mostly he because I thought they were a ‘he’ at first.”

Despite what the media might have us believe, non-binary people are not waiting for someone to slip up just so they can be offended.

Like anyone else, if they are treated with respect, they will likely be able to see when an honest mistake has been made and not launch into an attack on the person’s character.

Gleeson said: “There was no outrage. They understood I was making an effort to come around my 66-year-old head and muscle memory and work around the idea that you just call somebody ‘they’.

“I found that tolerance of them by me incredibly liberating. We had a great time. We still chat. The whole thing was an eye-opener for me.

“I am new to it and I think a lot of people and I think there are divisions arising generationally.”